The province say thousands of Albertans will have greater access to publicly-funded orthopedic surgeries through the use of chartered surgical facilities in Calgary.
Health Minister Jason Copping made the announcement Monday morning at Canadian Surgery Solutions, an independent health-care center in northwest Calgary.
“Albertans, many of whom are in pain, are waiting too long for life-changing knee and hip surgeries in Calgary,” said Copping. “Our Health Care Action Plan will accelerate adding more surgeries both at hospitals across Alberta and at chartered surgical facilities to bring down wait times to the waiting period recommended by medical experts.”
Copping says there are roughly 68,000 Albertans currently waiting for surgeries across the province and approximately 6,000 people in Calgary are awaiting orthopedic surgeries.
Starting this month, the province says Canadian Surgery Solution will increase the number of hip and knee replacement procedures it conducts each year by 3,000 as per its new contract with Alberta Health Services.
“We ran on a promise to get surgical wait times down to the recommended wait times by the end of our term,” said Copping.
“Unfortunately, COVID-19 came, and we are not going to be able to reach that goal. But we are still committed to that goal, and we’re driving hard at it.”
Some of the most delayed surgeries in Alberta for at least the past year have been hip and knee operations.
Meanwhile, Alberta’s health minister says the government has seen progress in its effort to attract doctors to the province.
Copping pointed to a report from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta that found, as of December 2022, there were 11,407 registered doctors across the province, representing an annual increase of 254.
He also acknowledged the fact that Alberta still needs more and says the government is working not only on bringing more doctors to the province but nurses too.
For now, he says the increased number of doctors is split evenly between family physicians and specialists, with many headed to rural areas of the province that have been hit the hardest by the doctor shortage.
“They’re being sponsored by AHS and they’re being sponsored in areas like Pincher Creek and Lethbridge, where there is a shortage,” said Copping.
“They’re coming in being sponsored to come work there. And typically when AHS works with new doctors coming in and sort of sponsoring them coming in, doctors will look at a bunch of different areas, and choose which one they wish to work in .”